Anxious during pregnancy? Your child may suffer from hyperactivity, finds study

Mother child
Representation of a mother and her child Pixabay

A new study revealed that mothers who suffer from anxiety during their pregnancy or in the first few years of post-pregnancy may notice hyperactivity in their children.

The new research findings are being published at the ECNP Congress in Copenhagen that revealed the children of women with anxiety are twice as likely to face the risk of having hyperactivity symptoms at the age of 16, compared to kids of those women who never suffered from the disorder.

The study conducted on more than 3000 children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) found that maternal anxiety makes their children prone to hyperactivity.

The researchers at ALSPAC, a long-term project based in Bristol, UK also recorded the levels of physical symptoms of anxiety, including sweating, trembling, dizziness and insomnia, in as many as 8727 mothers during their early pregnancy period and five years following the birth of the child. They found a significant link between the early life conditions of a fetus and its long-term effect on the subsequent health of the child.

During this research, experts examined children's performance in attention tests at the age of 8-8.5 years and found no difference. There was however a significant difference in hyperactivity symptoms in 3199 children, aged 16, who participated in the study. Researchers mentioned that the hyperactivity symptoms at this age depended upon how anxious their mothers were.

A child whose mother suffered from moderate to high levels of anxiety during pregnancy was twice as likely to experience hyperactivity, the study found.

Only five percent of children with low anxiety level mothers showed hyperactivity symptoms, while the figure of children with moderate and high-level anxiety mothers was 11 percent each.

Lead author of the study Dr Blanca Bolea said it was the first time a study showed that anxiety levels of a mother were linked with their children's hyperactivity in later life, but inattention had no such link.

As per the researchers, all mothers, who took part in the study, reported an increase in anxiety levels during pregnancy, with as much as 28 percent women showing medium to high levels of anxiety symptoms.

It is very much likely that children respond to perceived anxiety in their mothers or there could be a biological effect such as stress hormones in the placenta having an effect on a developing brain behind the results.

The ADHD is, however, a hereditary disorder, and now it is proven that maternal anxiety is one of the factors contributing to ADHD in adolescents. There are many other reasons behind the occurrence of ADHD in a person.

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